Realistic Expectations: Dennis Wideman

As the Flames reemerge from their rebuilding years, a lot has been made about their defensive corps. The team has three of the best locked up long term, and considerable depth in both the NHL and the AHL. The Flames built around their blueline, and are going to reap the benefits for some time.

Until last season, those discussions also included Dennis Wideman, who was coming off a 50+ point year. Even if he regressed in 2015-16, many thought that he would still be a 30-point player at the very least. After last season, some aren’t sure he’ll crack the top six.

The Year Before

It didn’t go well.

As soon as the Flames’ season started going off the rails, it was quite clear which defenders were underperforming. The finger pointing was mostly, and rightfully, at Wideman who was the biggest flop per dollar.

His possession performances were slightly worse than the year before, but the biggest and most damaging drop off was his scoring. In 2014-15, he could cover up with poor corsi by scoring 56 points. In 2015-16, not so much. He scored zero goals at 5v5, and only potted nine assists. It feels important right now to mention that, on average, he got around 30% of the ice time per game at 5v5.

To put it in context for his career, he posted his lowest P/60 since his rookie year, his lowest ICF/60 ever, his worst 5v5 CFRel%, his lowest shot total ever, and pretty much everything across the board worst ever. It was a bad, bad year.

Oh yeah, he also got suspended for 19 games (nine needlessly) and got injured a ton, too. It was a terrible year for poor Earl.


Going through a lot of the chatter on this website and other Flames forums, there’s been a lot of talk that Wideman, only two seasons removed from 50 points (102.56 5v5 PDO), could have a bounce-back in a career year.

A lot of that is nonsense. As established, Wideman’s on-ice results have been going downhill. Since joining the Flames, his CFrel% has dropped from 0.29 to -4.37 while his OZS% has slightly jumped from 30.61% to 33.33%. More tellingly, his DZS% have fallen from 38.06% in 2012-13 to 31.73%. He isn’t trusted with the defensive aspect of the game anymore and he isn’t a powerplay specialist anymore (88.61 CF60). The data suggests that he’s becoming a victim of age, and could perhaps continue to slip this next season.

But I’m not going to completely dismiss that initial argument as bunk. It’s also true that his results are heavily influenced by newest Oiler Kris Russell (I’m still celebrating), someone he won’t have to play with this year. Observe:

5v5 partner CF% Together Wideman CF% Seperate
Mark Giordano 51.9% 43.5%
Dougie Hamilton 56.8% 43.3%
Deryk Engelland 37.9% 47.5%
Kris Russell 43.0% 45.6%

(Remember: small sample sizes. Wideman’s spent 10% of his TOI with Hamilton, compared to around 27% with Russell and 30% with Engelland.)

There is still hope out there. There are two potential partners he’s not a disaster with, and if he can stick with either Hamilton or Giordano, he can probably be usable throughout the course of a season.

Wideman’s 2016-17 all comes down to pairings and usage. If he gets the luck of the draw and gets to play with one of Hamilton or Giordano, perhaps we can expect a modest 20-30 point season. I doubt he gets first unit powerplay time over Hamilton this year, so he probably won’t get higher than 30.

However, if someone takes that second pairing from him, it’s going to be a long, long season for all involved.

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    • freethe flames

      Enough of that on the waiver wire article. We don’t need to discuss it anymore as we have our own issues.

      If Wideman can play with either Dougie or Gio and play second PP minutes and get back to @30 pts then he will be a good trade chip at the deadline. The problem is that if he is playing in the top 4 then it is likely Eng’s is also playing in the same game and from my perspective that is not a good thing for the Flames. Ideally if they both are with us then only 1 of them should dress on any given night and never ever should be on the ice together.

      Reasonable expectations are that BT can find a way to trade him and make space for someone else to play.

    • The GREAT WW

      FN Overlord Kent Wilson said it all in his articles about Russell just before the trade deadline….

      Can’t wait for him to re post those! (Maybe someone with more time than me can provide the link to them).


    • Greg

      I came looking for that this morning too.

      To be entirely honest, I think it’s only a matter of time before the Oilers become a pretty scary team, but yesterday sure gave me a lot of hope they will still find a way to screw even the McDavid era up. Russel signing, Yakupov sell-off, Reinhart back to minors….

      • The GREAT WW

        No kidding; how on earth do you trade TWO first over all picks, a 16th overall pick and a 33rd overall pick for: Reinhart, Larson and a third round pick?!

        And we are not talking Sam Reinhart and OE Larson…


  • freethe flames

    Stockton Heat wins 3-2 in first exhibition game. Janko with the Hat Trick, Gilles with the win. Poirier, Kylington, and Frattin with Assists. Mangiapane/Janko/Frattin as a line. 3 stars Janko/Poireir/Gilles.

    These are some of the things we should be discussing on Flamesnation not what the team up North is doing.

    I am looking forward to see what other moves take place with the Flames and to see if anyone of use for them shakes loss on the waiver wire today.

    • freethe flames

      By the way according to Heat report Janko’s hat trick was the first in Heat history. Kind of surprising to me after Grant’s season last year.

      Speaking of Grant he has 3 goals and 3 assists this preseason for the Sabre’s.

  • Scootsy Doubleday

    Nine games needlessly wasted?
    So I guess deliberately cross checking a zebra sould just be a fine?

    20 games should have been just a start.

  • TurkeyLips

    We could all use a Wideman bounceback season. He was pretty darn productive a mere two years ago.


    Both players need to rejuvinate. It’s really what we need to become back to our playoff form

  • beloch

    The league and the NHLPA are still wrangling over Bettman’s suit to dismiss the ruling that reduced Wideman’s suspension to 10 games (after he served 19). It’s been quiet this summer but, as we saw last season, Bettman will likely find ways to drag Wideman and Treliving into courtrooms at the worst possible times. I wouldn’t be surprised if Treliving gets dragged into court days before the trade deadline again. Wideman had the legal right to appeal the league’s ruling, but Bettman is clearly trying to send a message to players that resistance is futile.

    This is terrible for Wideman because this is a crucial year for him. If he bounces back, he could get a decent retirement contract somewhere. If he’s distracted by legal issues and fades away, he’s done.

    Bottom line, we’re probably going to see more of the wrong kind of Drama unfold for Wideman this year.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Sad that the article made no mention about Donnie Henderson, so I will. He is still in a very bad way. There is absolutely no timetable for his return to game. Talk now is just being able to return to a normal everyday life. Concussions are a bitch.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Sad that the article made no mention about Donnie Henderson, so I will. He is still in a very bad way. There is absolutely no timetable for his return to game. Talk now is just being able to return to a normal everyday life. Concussions are a bitch.